ESA Rosetta Comet Landing Success!

The European Space Agency’s ambitious 12-year project to put a lander on a moving comet has been successful!

The operation to launch the lander, Philae, started last night at 00:00 GMT (12 AM PST) after getting its fourth and final go ahead to proceed.

For a few agonizing minutes the Rosetta Orbiter and the Philae lander were out of contact until finally confirmation of a successful separation between the two was confirmed.

After the separation, the Philae Lander took a photograph of the Rosetta Orbiter, and the Rosetta Orbiter did the same for Philae.

Rosetta

Philae

Then began the descent, which took a terrifying seven hours to complete. The lander successfully and surprisingly gently hit the comet’s surface at 16:03 GMT (8:03 AM PST).

The team who put their all into the project were extremely elated to see the lander made it.

rosetta2

rosetta3

ESA operations tweeted out this photo taken from the lander during its arduous descent:

Descent

Not all went without a hitch: the harpoons which were meant to secure the lander to the comet did not fire. According to ESA Operations, the lander is in great shape and the team is looking at re-fire options.

History has been made with this extraordinary event and we’re looking forward to the knowledge Philae’s data will bring us. A hearty congratulations to the ESA and the team who worked so incredibly hard to make this dream a reality.

 

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